Former Andhra Pradesh Speaker and six-time TDP MLA Kodela Siva Prasad Rao committed suicide Monday at his home in Hyderabad. While Rao's family told police that he was under "a lot of pressure" after the ruling YSRCP government filed cases against him and his son, the AP government said the cases were registered based on evidence. AP chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and his predecessor and TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu condoled his death even as the suicide triggered a war of words between the two parties in the state. A doctor who shifted to politics almost 35 years ago, Kodela is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.
Incidentally, the AP government had booked Kodela for allegedly diverting furniture worth nearly Rs 1 crore from the AP Assembly to his personal offices and residence in Guntur while the capital was being shifted from Hyderabad to Amaravati. He had denied the charges. On August 23, Kodela suffered a stroke while in Guntur and moved to Hyderabad recently to recuperate. In a statement to police Monday, Kodela's daughter Vijayalakshmi said he had breakfast on the ground floor of their house and went up to his room.
"He was supposed to come down to go with my mother to the hospital but when he did not come even after half an hour I went up and found the door locked from inside. I went behind and through the window and saw that he had hanged himself," she told police. "With the help of his personal security officer and driver, we broke the door and rushed him to hospital. He was under a lot of pressure for several days after cases were filed against him and my brother."
Former TDP minister N Chinna Rajappa alleged that the AP Government which foisted cases on him was responsible for his suicide. "He was under tremendous stress due to the false cases and mudslinging by the YSRCP Government,'' he said. Another former TDP minister Pithani Satyanarayana said Kodela was very withdrawn and dejected due to the constant police harassment and allegations against his elder son and daughter. "He was a well-known doctor and public servant and a very popular leader. He was pushed to commit suicide by pressure that the government and police put on him,'' he said.
Responding to the allegations, YSRCP MLA Ambati Rambabu said TDP leaders were politicising the leader's death. Municipal Administration Minister Botsa Satyanarayana said that a thorough investigation was needed because it was not clear whether he died of a heart attack or committed suicide. "Cases were filed against Kodela and his son based on evidence and complaints by affected people. Government did not put any kind of pressure,'' said Botsa. YSRCP MLA Srikanth Reddy said Kodela was caught stealing furniture and unable to bear the humiliation, he committed suicide.
Kodela had denied any wrongdoing and said that he had diverted the furniture belonging to the AP Assembly to prevent theft. He had then told The Indian Express that he moved the furniture and electronics as there was no space to keep them in the Speaker's office and that they could have been stolen or damaged there. He also said he had kept them until the new Assembly complex was ready at Velagapudi in Amaravati. A doctor, Kodela joined the Telugu Desam Party when it was founded by N T Rama Rao in 1983. He completed his MBBS from Guntur Medical College and his MS (General Surgery) from Banaras Hindu University. He contested and won from Narasaraopet in Guntur five times and once from Sattenapalle in 2014.
He lost to YSR Congress Party's Ambati Rambabu in the 2019 elections. In his 35-year political career, Kodela served as a minister in NTR's Cabinet and N Chandrababu Naidu's cabinet. He held important portfolios like Home, Health, Major Irrigation, Panchayati Raj and Civil Supplies, before being appointed as the first Speaker after AP was bifurcated in 2014. Kodela's body will be taken to his native place Sattenapalle in Guntur district Tuesday morning. Kodela's elder son Sivaram who is in Kenya will is expected to perform the last rites.
Naidu said: "I am unable to digest the death of Kodela Sivaprasad. Kodela joined the medical profession and emerged as the most popular leader.I extend my deepest sympathies to their family members, praying to God that He may grant them peace," he said. On Twitter, the CM's office said: "Chief Minister Sri YS Jagan Mohan Reddy expressed grief over the death of former Andhra Pradesh Assembly Speaker Sri Kodela Siva Prasada Rao and conveyed his condolences to the bereaved family members."